Mrs Sarah Burrage Faulkner1
1Community Living Project, Adelaide, Australia
COVID-19 highlighted the safeguarding role of neighbours in mitigating the impact of isolation. Funded by the SA Department of Premier and Cabinet and Julia Farr MS McLeod Benevolent Fund, the Neighbourhood Circles Project aims to strengthen models for inclusive neighbourhoods.
The initial phase of the project focuses on existing neighbourhood initiatives around the greater Adelaide region and explores the questions to what types of initiatives exist, how they are formed, and what risks they face to their accessibility and sustainability into the future. The information is being collated through a series of online and in-person qualitative approaches, including ethnographic fieldwork with participant observation, focus groups, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis. Five focus groups were facilitated among 18 people living with a disability, 14 neighbourhood leaders, and 6 community stakeholders. In addition to the focus groups, individual semi-structured interviews were also conducted with 25 different stakeholders from a variety of demographics, including community and council staff, neighbourhood leaders, and community volunteers.
Initial findings of the project have shown that there is a diversity of organically grown initiatives that help to bring people in neighbourhoods together. Yet despite the important role these groups play there are many risks to their sustainability into the future, as well as systemic barriers that prevent some of our neighbours living with intellectual and physical disabilities from participating.
Networks and places that build community spirit can strengthen neighbourhoods and work to combat isolation and loneliness, as well as create opportunities for relationships to form and genuine safeguards to be built. By learning from existing initiatives and people with lived experiences, we hope to help address gaps in neighbourhood inclusivity and accessibility into the future.
Sarah is the Project Lead for the Neighbourhood Circles Project. Sarah previously worked as a Circles Facilitator with the Circles of Support Initiative for CLP and is currently completing her PhD part-time with the University of South Australia. Sarah currently lives in Adelaide with her husband Patrick and dog Jimmy.